Quoted from the author's "Introduction"
"In the Middle Ages, when Europe was recovering the elementary qualities of civilization, wealth and art, some of the sleepy old towns grew into cities with densely-populated quarters on both sides of therivers on which they were built. The bridges across the rivers, became,
as in ancient London, Paris, and Florence, bottlenecks of the sluggishly turbulent traffic, and enterprising traders opened shops on them . You crossed between two lines of shops, and at each a "barker" dinned into your ears the quality and price of the wares. In Italy, from which the new trade spread, these "criers" were called ciarlatani (pronounced "charlatan") and so the name of charlatan came in many countries to be given to the man who with raucous voice or fluent pen called your attention to his goods or his ideas."
There are "too many 'isms to be examined."
"These fall, roundly, into four classes. There are creeds that would persuade you that this city built by the wisdom of our fathers is the best form that civilization can at present safely take, or that at the most a few repairs, and little modern plumbing and so on, are all that
we require. There are others who, while appreciating that this social order must profoundly change, protest that the change must be very slow and gradual. Behind the air of robust commonsense of both these schools of charlatans you will generally find that they represent interests in the present social order which any considerable change would threaten. Then there are 'isms which valiantly demand radical change, but in one department of life only or in one at a time; in the religious world, the political world, or the economic world. They protest that the change they advocate in one or other field is so fundamental that its benefits would spread at once to other fields; though a cynic might suggest that they find it easier to criticise your creed while they respect the sanctity of your pocket or to pick your pocket while they flatter your creed. There are, in fine, others who resent all excuses for delay and want life as a whole reconstructed as speedily as possible. A man is apt to conclude wearily that they are not so much building a golden City as a Tower of Babel."